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October 17, 2021

WikiLeaks: RAFO refinery, Russian mob’s ‘Trojan horse’

A November 7, 2006 cable from the US embassy analyses the privatisation of RAFO refinery, described as the ‘Trojan horse’ of the Russian mob in Romania, according to daily ‘JurnalulNational.’

“The RAFO oil refinery is embroiled in a web of corruption, money laundering, fraud and criminal charges involving shady entities in Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Russian-Israeli organized crime figures Mikhail Cernoy and Iakov Goldovskiy are believed to be behind the purchase attempt by the Dutch-registered company Calder-A,” the cable released by the publication reads.

The document also adds that the Romanian government at the time was the subject of a heavy lobby effort, including from the Austrian government, to approve the Russian take over of RAFO. In the analysis, the US embassy wrote that the refinery’s 2001 privatisation was regarded as one of the biggest failures in Romania’s post-communist privatisation history.By 2006, RAFO had posted net losses of USD 448 M andowed USD 500 M in tax arrears to the state and private companies.“In October 2001, the then PSD government privatized RAFO in a notorious deal with aconsortium including controversial Romanian businessman Corneliu Iacubov and a Portugal based company named CanyonSericos,” the cable said. It also noted that Iacubov was under investigation for organised crime, tax evasion, embezzlement and money laundering and had been connected “to past fraudulent schemes involving bond sales and investment funds.”

The document also revealed that Calder-A was “100% owned by Austrian-based Vienna Capital Partners,” and managed by Bulgarian businessman Todor Batkov, “whose connections with organized crime are well known in Sofia.” “Current RAFO manager Marin Anton has stated that Russian businessmen and organized crime figures Mikhail Cernoy and Iakov Goldovskiy are behind Austrian-based Petrochemical Holding, which controls Calder-A. Cernoy and Goldovskiy have allegedly pressured RAFO’s suppliers to limit its access to oil during the dispute to apply pressure on the domestic oil market,” the document said.

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